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168 points by okeumeni on Oct 16, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments

But the iPhone and iPad aren't priced at a premium.

Anyway, it's a mistake pit Google against Apple. The real battle will be between Google and Microsoft for the exact same hardware manufacturers and sales channels. (Meanwhile, you can buy an iPad from an Apple Store or from Walmart without any carrier involvement).

Google hasn't managed the fragmentation problem very well, they haven't done enough to control the quality the Android OS between carriers and manufacturers, and they've utterly mismanaged the Android Market. I'm no fan of Microsoft or WinMo 7, but I expect Microsoft to do a much better job at addressing all of those issues.

Microsoft can also leverage their Zune desktop software.

And Microsoft's development tools are generally very popular with developers. I've done some work with WPF and I found it very impressive and I would expect their Phone SDK to be of similar quality. On the other hand, even though I generally like Java I'm finding the move from iPhone development to Android development to be a depressing step backwards both in terms of the dev tools and especially the SDK.

Then again, it is Microsoft we're talking about. It may take them another 3 or 6 years to get it right.

A lot of companies have to pay an 'Android tax' to Microsoft in order to prevent litigation. HTC paid Microsoft off in order to not be sued[1], Samsung and LG cut a deal that included exchanging patents[2][3], and Motorola decided to fight[4] (my simplifications are not perfect). I am saying all this to say that it's unfair to say that there is a "battle will be between Google and Microsoft for the exact same hardware manufacturers and sales channels" when Microsoft is blackmailing everyone and profits from either outcome. I mean Google ain't a morally perfect company (I still believe based on what I know that the Verizon deal is unfair) but to my knowledge they seem to be quite the David in this fight.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2010/apr10/04-27msh...

[2] http://news.cnet.com/2100-1014_3-6177381.html?part=rss&t...

[3] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/lg-microsoft-l...

[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870385920457552...

If you want to sell a Windows Phone 7 handset, you have to pay Microsoft.

If you want to sell an Android handset... you have to pay Microsoft.

They're pretty direct about their legal strategy.

And Microsoft's development tools are generally very popular with developers.

Yes, very popular with .NET developers. That's the problem with Microsoft, everything is coupled together and isolated from anything non-Microsoft. You're usually either a .NET developer or an everything-else developer. Everyone else has free development tools/environments. Everyone else has vibrant online communities. Everyone else shares and collaborates with open source projects (strategically at least).

Apple is fairly similar on that front. If you want to develop iPhone apps, you have to buy into the whole stack: XCode on OS X on a Mac.

(Well, technically it's possible to target the iPhone via other methods, but they're not easy or supported, or in some cases even legal.)

Well... Microsoft is a little more weird. The company still freaks out over open source. And when they "officially" started endorsing some open source, it was in the context of their own open source licenses and their own open source hosting website.

Then they try and develop web technology, Silverlight, that is better than Flash by technical standards but is so entrenched in Microsoft-land that hardly anyone wants to do anything with it. You can't author anything for it when using Apple and Linux doesn't even get a runtime (Mono doesn't count, can never be feature-complete).

Apple doesn't seem quite the same. A lot of Apple developers are active in other developer communities. Microsoft developers seem to stick to Microsoft technologies. Perhaps this is because Microsoft has their own implementation of almost everything.

> "Silverlight, that is better than Flash by technical standards but is so entrenched in Microsoft-land that hardly anyone wants to do anything with it"

This is more to do with Flash being a defacto standard than anything else. I've been a Linux user since 10 years ago, and I haven't forgotten the piss-poor support of Adobe for Flash on Linux.

Heck, they finally decided to start porting Flash to Linux because of competition with Silverlight.

> "Mono doesn't count, can never be feature-complete"

Of course Mono counts, and compared to open-source Flash clones, it is in a far better shape.

I've been a Linux user since 10 years ago, and I haven't forgotten the piss-poor support of Adobe for Flash on Linux.

Hard to forget it when it won't go away. No 64-bit plugin, no accelerated video. (Their explanation that there are too many video acceleration APIs was pretty weak: if they adopted one, it would become the standard.)

There's finally a 64-bit plugin (for all 3 major OSs), though it's still an "Adobe Labs" offering rather than part of the main product: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer10/

Thanks, I'll take a look. I'd love to be able to do without npwrapper.

Sorry,, modded you down accidentally. Totally agree about moonlight, silver light content won't even point your browser to moonlight plugin on linux.

StackOverflow is somewhat .NET-biased, and it’s probably the most vibrant online community available. Mono provides a free development tool/environment built around skills easily transferred to .NET. Microsoft even occasionally collaborates with Mono.

Also, “everything is coupled together” occasionally becomes a feature.

However, what do I know — I haven’t ever used a Microsoft OS on a computer I control. .NET seems nice, though.

As a CS student, I'm a bit surprised that our curriculum contains no .NET whatsoever. We learn Java, C and C++ (both with gcc), Python, Perl, Bash scripting and ARM assembly, plus others depending on electives. While some of the lab computers run XP, all of our work has to be platform-independent. We work in *nix, and most of the professors use MBPs. It seems to me that the program really might be selling some of our students short by not covering something as huge as .NET, but I'm not complaining.

I'm sure you've been told this before but it really matters very little what language you are taught in your degree. During the course of your career you'll learn many languages and APIs. It's the principles of sound software engineering that will stand you in good stead.

That being said... I resent my school using (almost) only Java for its curriculum. When I started learning JavaScript, Scheme, and Common Lisp this past year and discovered languages with first class functions and closures, my feelings of resentment only grew.

No. The .NET you have to "learn" is just a set of class libraries and interfaces, the gist of which you will get in a weekend hacking together your first C# project.

Unix is the platform to teach in CS , if you should even teach towards a platform at all. Not only because *nix common in industry, but its set of small and reusable tools is well suited to the software engineering philosophy.

My CS department had a course in .NET. It also had a course in XML. Why anyone would take those is baffling.

Also, if all you're extracting from your CS classes are new languages to pad your resume with, then you are missing the forest for the trees.

Google hasn't managed the fragmentation problem very well, they haven't done enough to control the quality the Android OS between carriers and manufacturers, and they've utterly mismanaged the Android Market.

All true, and still they've had great success. (I'm actually surprised, given how bad the Market is and how blatantly the carriers are screwing up the phones). Which just means they can do even better if they can address those obvious problems.

On the other hand, even though I generally like Java I'm finding the move from iPhone development to Android development to be a depressing step backwards

It was the opposite for me. Between getting rid of header files and manual memory management, and having the app run right away on my phone rather than futzing with certificates, I'm enjoying Android development much more.

> "All true, and still they've had great success."

I'd argue they haven't. The success would've been the adoption of the platform - but as far as I can see none of the major Android phone vendors actually support the platform - they see it more as a way to skimp on software development costs, and offload it onto Google instead. There's little to no interest in even updating the phones, or supporting the platform as a whole.

I feel that Google has been taken for a ride by Motorola, HTC, et al - there's a lot of lip service paid to Android, but none of their actions have helped solidify the platform, instead being treated simply as free code. The fact that there are a lot of units of hardware moving off shelves means little, IMHO, for the long-term success of the platform.

I feel that Google has been taken for a ride by Motorola, HTC

That's fair play tho' - Google sought to commoditize handsets.

But they do invest in the platform. All the customization stuff means they have something invested in the platform.

> The fact that there are a lot of units of hardware moving off shelves means little, IMHO, for the long-term success of the platform.

This is true for all mobile platforms. People change their phones often and have few true dependencies on the underlying OS. RIM might be the "dominant smartphone" at the moment but I doubt they're feeling super comfortable.

FYI, Windows 7 Phone uses the Microsoft .NET SDK so you can actually write in any .NET language. This is one of the few real reasons I would switch to Windows 7 Phone -- I would love to try programming a phone app in F#.

This might come true for Android soon, too: http://monodroid.net/

There is an effort to provide tools for Android development in a bunch of scripting languages. It's not ready for prime time yet and it wasn't clear to me how well you'll be able to access the libraries, but it's a promising alternative.

Is this the one you had in mind? http://code.google.com/p/android-scripting/

ASE doesn't allow you to build fully featured applications, only simple scripts that can interact with the Android APIs.

On the other hand Ruboto[1] looks very promising, it's a project that brings JRuby to Android application development.

[1] http://ruboto.org/

I would say that fragmentation problem is not that big of a problem in general. It should be handled much like iOS is handling in basically they are not allowing iphone 3G phones and earlier not to have certain features, and ability to download apps.. which is essentially the same thing. I have a 3G and theres more and more apps that I'm unable to download, and I don't have access to a lot of features in the latest iOS.

This is a slight red herring, I do wonder how many of these apps you would like, could actually be rather easily made to run on your phone (can you give a specific example, many apps do not need 4.0 features or could easily have them ported around)

Apple have done a great job of outdating the old sdks, mainly through the method of dropping simulator support for the previous sdks and no legitimate route of running previous firmwares on an iPhone other than holding them back (obvious flaw in this plan, how does a new developer acquire an ipod running 2.2 or 3.0)

Android on the other hand has had no where near this rate of attrition of the previous sdks with only really the initial release not being heavily supported.

However Android suffers from the problem you are not just waiting for Google to update the firmware so you can't make your app 2.0+ only in the thoughts that if users want my app they can update their firmware, this step would remove a lot of htc, sony and other phones that do not currently have the ability to run a 2.0 firmware whilst still being a very comptent phone.

As for the carrier "enhanced" firmwares....

I wonder if Android is competing more with the iPhone or with the generic phones that aren't branded anything in particular.

Remember those graphs of user's current phones related to the next phone they bought? Apple users were happy to continue with Apple, and even BB users wanted iphones.

"All true, and still they've had great success."

Google has had great success, which is good to see.

"Which just means they can do even better if they can address those obvious problems."

Not necessarily. If all these people are just buying android phones because they can not get an iPhone, then nothing Google does will change that. The real test will be when the iPhone is available on more carriers, and when people need to upgrade there Android devices, and stay with Android. It is just too soon to tell, so far.

In many non-US countries, iPhone is available on multiple carriers. My understanding (though I don't have numbers readily available) is that it's quite successful in many of them.

I can't speak for any other country, but here in France, where the iPhone is available on any carrier, almost all of my acquaintances have either iPhones or, if it's supplied by their job, a Blackberry. The only people I know that have Android phones are programmers.

The iPhone is priced at a premium.

At best you could argue (like the standard Windows vs Apple arguments) that if you start with the iPhone and then try to match most of its features then you'll end up paying the same. More likely you're still paying up to a third more, though this may be mostly hidden by US carrier billing practices.

Of course if you start with a cheap Android phone like the ZTE Blade then you'll simply not be able to match it on price. Nor if you choose an Android phone with a 5" screen or hardware keyboard or HDMI out will you be able to match it on features.

Note the contradiction between the two common claims that a) the iPhone isn't more expensive than alternatives and b) Android is only gaining marketshare because of Buy-One-Get-One-Free deals.

You might well be right on the iPad, the $200 Android tablets mentioned in this blog post are probably total crap. But the iPhone is clearly priced at a premium, 20-30% more than the models with comparable hardware from other phone manufacturers.

Note that I'm not complaining. Apple is free to price their goods however they want, and if they can price the iPhone at a massive premium and still sell tons, that's great for them. I'm sure other phone makers would love to have similar margins.

I hate to say this, but it seems common to compare price based on the hardware alone. Good software and good design cost money too. A lot of money. You pay for the development, testing, and design of all the prototypes discarded before the one you get.

Android phone vendors save a lot on the development of the system because Google and many others paid for it. And frankly, based on the make of the majority of Android phones, I don't think they spend as much as Apple on the design part either. That might explain the 20~30% "premium". You get what you paid for.

I don't understand why you're putting scare-quotes around '"premium"'. Apple do a lot of things very well, have a great brand, and unlike most of their competitors haven't been totally commoditized. That allows them to sell the iPhone and Macs at a high premium compared to the competitors. As a result they are ridiculously profitable while most other phone and PC manufacturers range from making a loss to making a modest profit.

(And actually Apple spends stunningly little on R&D compared to it's peers. There was a rather nice graph about this that I can't find, but e.g. Microsoft and Nokia spend an order of magnitude more on R&D than Apple does, while seemingly getting just a fraction of the results.)

I put the quotes around premium 'cause I don't really feel Apple charges unfairly for its products. The software and design is worth every penny of that extra 20%~30%.

My take on the R&D thing: Yes Apple is likely to be the largest tech company to spend least on R&D, but they have a much smaller range of products and market share to recover that cost. Also I was talking about the smart phone for that. Nokia and Microsoft don't make Android phones. They cannot take the free ride on Google.

Actually, the real battle will be between Apple and Microsoft for spots #3 and #4 in the mobile market, as explained here:


Android is already #2 and poised to become #1 in the next three years. Apple and Microsoft will soon not even be in the same league.

They will definitely lag in number of handsets, but will also completely destroy the Android players in terms of profit. If you consider the ecosystem as a whole, I am betting that Microsoft will also knock Android down into third-place in terms of third-party developer profit as well.

The profit argument stopped being true a few days ago, when Google announced their earnings including the mobile break down.

Google does not profit from Android, they profit through mobile advertising which has very little to do with a specific phone OS. The profit argument simply points out that the people who are producing Android phones have the lowest profit/handset in the industry and having a "sell more regardless of the low profit levels" strategy such as what Nokia used for the past decade is a recipe for disaster.

"But the iPhone and iPad aren't priced at a premium."

I believe that AT&T subsidizes the hell out of the iPhone (pays Apple $400 per phone sold), which the do for the privilege of exclusivity, among other reasons. When/if that exclusivity dies, we'll see if carriers will pony up. The alternative is more expensive iPhones or reduced margins (will Apple be willing to accept the latter?).

> "I believe that AT&T subsidizes the hell out of the iPhone"

No more than any other device. By all reports, the iPhone is not significantly more expensive to build than comparable smartphones, and in fact if you look at similar smartphones, both subsidized contract prices and unsubsidized prices are very similar to the iPhone as well.

Android is going to open the market for cheaper, low-end smartphones, that's for certain - but comparably equipped smartphones, whether they be Nokia, Android, or WinMo7, are all in the same general price point.

If I look at comparable high end smartphones, they are significantly cheaper than the iPhone whether subsidized or not. For example from Switzerland:

Locked,subsidized iPhone 4 16GB: 199 CHF + two year contract at 55 CHF / month Locked,subsidized Galaxy S: 1 CHF + two year contract at 55 CHF /month, but with the monthly fee waived for 3 months (so basically 350 CHF cheaper)

Unlocked, unsubsidized iPhone 4 16GB: 769 CHF Unlocked, unsubsidized Nokia N8: 519 CHF

You display partial data. I did a quick google search and Samsung Galaxy S 16GB cost 799 CHF on swisscom


This is what I call a typical product launch by Microsoft: hype with lots of magic dust that is going to fix everyone's problems.

Until you see those WinMo 7 phones in the wild, I would withhold judgment if I were you.

And you know what, it is also typically of Microsoft to fuck WinMo 6.x users and developers with something totally incompatible and no upgrade path.

    Windows lacked the fit and finish of the Macintosh.
    But it didn't matter. Because there were hundreds
    of Windows machines whereas there was only a few
    variations of Macintosh, all controlled by the
    same company and priced at a premium.
Windows is priced at a premium, you just don't feel it because the cost is rolled into the cost of whatever piece of kit you just bought. Is our memory so shallow as to forget the anti-trust methods that brought Windows to dominance? It wasn't because the market wanted it, it was because that's what was crammed down the throat of the market.

    And the most recent Android Foursquare build has finally
    delivered the awesome Foursquare iPhone experience to Android.
That line sort of says it all, doesn't it? How many times have you heard that the other way? "delivered the awesome Android experience to the iPhone" - yeah probably never.

I'm just bitter because I've been working on a html5 version of my site specifically for Android, and it's a major PITA. The 4 android phones I have all behave differently, the different OS versions have their own quirks and bugs. And the hardware, god the hardware! Awful.

> Is our memory so shallow as to forget the anti-trust methods that brought Windows to dominance? It wasn't because the market wanted it, it was because that's what was crammed down the throat of the market.

Yes, that came along eventually, but might I suggest a read of "20 years of high tech marketing disasters"? The author suggests that Microsoft came to dominate only thanks to other players in the market screwing up more than they did. IBM and Apple being amongst those who make the biggest mistakes.

And I do not say that as a Microsoft fan. Once they did get an advantage, they used it for all it was worth, to try and expand their monopoly into market sectors. That is what they were convicted of.

Quite right. The monopolist behavior came years after their original success, and doubtless in the minds of MS's leader(s) was no different from the scrappy competitiveness they had always practiced.

MS were smart, but also lucky in their competitors. Digital Research deserves a place of honor on your list. And most things I've read about Netscape seem like they were so afraid of being killed by MS that they killed themselves instead.

I don't think anyone in tech can match the colossal, repeated fuckups of Xerox.

Windows is priced at a premium, you just don't feel it because the cost is rolled into the cost of whatever piece of kit you just bought.

As I understand it, OEM costs for Windows are a small fraction of retail. Computers offered with no OS, FreeDOS or Linux rarely cost less than the same machine with Windows. This holds true both with major manufacturers offering a choice of OS on their products and with generic laptops sold under several brand names (compare System76, which sells laptops with Linux to Sager, which sells some of the same machines with Windows). In most cases, the cost is offset by bundling trialware, so you don't actually pay for Windows at all.

> " "delivered the awesome Android experience to the iPhone" - yeah probably never."

That's because the iPhone still doesn't have half the features that are standard on Android :/

Is our memory so shallow as to forget the anti-trust methods that brought Windows to dominance?

As far as I know, no anti-trust methods brought Windows to dominance. Anti-trust methods did bring IE to dominance, however.

I know of no Android tablet available in the $199 price range. Someone please point one out if one exists.

The argument that Windows won because Macintosh was priced at a premium is a dubious argument.

Apple is able to purchase flash memory, processors, and touch screens in bulk. They own Intrinisty and PA Semiconductor.

Apple looks like Walmart on their supply side and looks like Barney's on the retail side. There is no price pressure. They could slash their margins but they don't have to. It's still difficult to find an iPad and iPhone 4. They can't make enough of them.

Secondly, 95% market share is unnatural. It doesn't happen often. Markets look more like GM/Chrysler/Ford or XBox/PlayStation/Wii. I suspect the smartphone market will develop similarly.

And if you want to say that the iPhone will be crushed like the Macintosh was crushed by Windows then it is just as easy to say that Android will be crushed the same way Sun Microsystems and Novell were crushed when Eric Schmidt was there.

Looks like Archos has a 7 inch tablet that they sell for $199, though it doesn't have 3G access. Archos has been around for a while and are known to build fairly solid hardware, so this isn't some drive-by-night operation hawking crap on late-night informercial either.


edit: er, apparently it still runs android 1.5...

Apple already won against Archos despite Archos offering cheaper and maybe in some respects even better MP3 players than Apple. (Please allow me this one dig against Archos: Their products are consistently ugly, though.)

I know that doesn’t mean that Apple will again beat Archos when it comes to tablets but I certainly wouldn’t bet much on Android when Apple merely has to fight companies in the tablet space they already defeated in the MP3 player space. HTC looks like a tough competitor. Archos does not.

I still can't just walk in to major stores and get these. I can go to Apple stores, or Best Buy, and now target, to get an ipad (and Best Buy, AT&T, etc stores for iPhones). :(

And, yeah, you pointed out the 1.5 issue. Google needs to do a better job of getting Android licensees to update their versions. There should be no one selling a new device in October 2010 only running 1.5.

edit: I can't walk in to stores in my area. Some stores report they have some archos tablets, but they're generally not there when I go.

I've seen Archos Android tablets in stores for longer than the iPad has been out, such as at Best Buy.

Besides that, there are plenty of Android tablets out there for various prices.. and build quality of course.


I saw an Android tablet in Macy's today for $169 (might have been $179.) It was an off-brand Chinese model and the display had a dead battery and wasn't plugged in, but the fact that it was there at all, next to the shoe department struck me as notable.

I know of no Android tablet available in the $199 price range. Someone please point one out if one exists.

I saw one in Bangkok. Cost about 4000 Baht and was from China. I didn't get one because there didn't seem to be any warranty for it and I don't live there, but it was pretty awesome to play with.

There are a heap of them on Dealextreme.com. No Android market, capacitive touchscreen... BUT they are pushing down to $100, not $199.

Don't underestimate this - I know someone who bought one to stick on the kitchen wall for recipes. At that price there are hundreds of vertical markets available.

Augen sells an Android tablet for either $159 or $129. Can't recall exactly.

Archos 7: $199. Archos 28: $149. Archos 32: $199.

I find it interesting that most people who like Android like it in the future tense.

Android is always great, but in that next version, that is just around the corner. That upcoming tablet, that upcoming phone, that upcoming software.

Oh man I can't up vote this enough. +1000 times yes.

There is a huge difference between "iPad/iPhone are good now" and "android is as good in a few areas now, lacks the polish and we hope it will be as good in the future".

The eternal optimism and buying into the hype never ceases to amaze me. In fact I don't understand it other than the possibility that those most keen are too young to remember the past (and no, I'm not referring to Fred here, obviously).

One key thing people forget is that they're chasing a moving target. The iOS ecosystem isn't static. Also google are still in their honeymoon period as far as fragmentation goes. That will get worse before it gets better.

I can best sum it up this way: people who buy an iPhone are buying an iPhone. The vast majority of pop,e who are buying android phones are buying... A phone.

There is a huge difference.

That being said, not ignoring android is prudent and I'm certainly not writing it off but taking the iPad as one example, I believe that credible competition is still a year or even two off.

Android is "good enough" now for lots of people, which shows in its sales. That Android owners can point at future products and get excited for upcoming features is just icing on the cake.

This is very true. Apple products are luxury products which, IMO, are worth the money. UX, design and the "it just works" factor are worth the premium. But for most people, cost/availability is the gating factor so Android phones are totally fine for them.


Android is great in the next version and good enough in the present version to have a strong market share. Never as polished but generally having the features you need...

For people, this show how tasteless and low class the thing is. For others, it's something to believe in...


Honestly, I don't see Google EVER making a product like iPad/iPhone. Come on, they're an advertising company after all - one that can't just stick their software on some phone from a Taiwanese company, it'll work but you know...

Apple's products operate completely on another level.

This is the year of the Linux tablet!

Android 2.2 is excellent. It easily competes with iOS on many metrics, beating it in some areas.

Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S (esp. the Pro), the Droid 2, the Droid X -- excellent devices that are hyper-competitive. Few with such a device would look jealously on an iPhone.

So no...on the phone front Android is top tier. Yeah, subjectively someone will say that the iPhone is all roses for them, but that's the value of a competitive market -- you pick the one that fits you best. On the tablet market it is future tense because, I suspect, Google really didn't want Android to be the tablet OS. They wanted ChromeOS to take that crown. I don't talk tablets when the conversation is about Android.

I don't know what people you talk to, but the current article clearly talks in present tense.

e.g. I asked him if he'd pay $199 for an Android tablet. He said "where can I get one"?

The punchline is "Nowhere."

I guess the point is the reviews. Not great.


Roughly the same number of reviews for each star. 5 has the fewest. Reading the positive reviews is possibly more informative than the negative ones:

I'm now satisfied with my Archo's 7 Home tablet. After many hours reading helps and hints on the Archo's 7 Home Tablet Forum and installing some of the programs they advise downloading to beef up the weak and clumsy operating system, I got my android tablet just where I want it.. ..new firmare that makes the touch keypad a little easier to work with, but you still need a stylus to get best result..

Not sure what this means about the future and it's certainly not an apples to apples comparison, but it doesn't sound like a cheap android tablet exists that an average VC'c dad would be happy with.

Neither of those even works out of the box with the Android Market. Even with wishing and hoping and squinting, it's not credible to put them in the same product category as the iPad. A some-assembly-required golf cart can't substitute for a two-seater sedan.

isn't the nook an android tablet? (albeit a very specialized one.)

It isn't worth calling it Android.. I think when people think Android they think of the default interface, the ability to install applications from the App Market, and so on. I have a nook and it's basically stripped down to just a few customized apps (besides the reader function a couple games, a basic media player, and a web browser).

However, I do think it's important in that it shows the versatility of Android as a platform..

You should check out nookDevs

And the new Apple TV is an iOS device. Who cares? The OS in both cases is an implementation detail. Neither the ATV or the Nook remotely exemplify the features people associate with "iOS device" or "Android tablet".

yes it is :)

(I have one)

I hate when people cheer lead for one particular gigantic corporation to own the market History shows that isn't very good for consumers. Why not cheer lead for a healthy diverse market with lots of competition?

As a developer you want to target only on phone, and you then want that phone to have as wide a market-share as possible, so you will have more people who can buy your app.

As a user, you want to buy only one phone and then want that phone to have as wide a market-share as possible so there will be more apps for it.

As a competing phone manufacture you are outnumbered, so it doesn't matter what you want.

Most of us do, just the fanboys are louder and more rabid.

'cuz i like what I have and I want it to be successful.

One thing I'd like to see is Android have more of a presence in universities. It'd give CS students useful exposure to mobile development and allow them to put all of the Java that gets crammed down their throats to good use.

I'm in my second year of a CS degree. We have a required module titled "Mobile Application Development" which from what I've heard is purely Android development. There is also an optional iPhone development module which is less popular due to the £120 Apple developer fee (I expect the people who take this module will be the ones who bring their shiny Macbooks to every lecture and complain loudly when asked to put them away).

We had an email last year asking for input on which platform to develop on this year so it's also the students' decision to learn Android.

I am actually surprised Apple would charge developer fees for academic purposes. Wont they be much better of creating future developers for their ecosystems, as compared to getting their wallet fatter by $120/student?

Free university licenses exist, though I think it needs to be set up by the institution


That's good to hear. During my internship at Google this past summer, I mentioned to the university outreach folks that they should work with schools to emphasize Android in coursework. It'd be nice to have some enthusiasm coming downstream from Google on this one.

Not quite what you are getting at, but a lot of university-led CS research uses Android. Android hits a sweet spot where it's easy to hack, but at the same time changes you make are relevant to millions of shipping devices. Security research in particular has a lot of fun with Android, because you can analyse the existing platform, then turn around and build your idea, then turn around and run it on real hardware without too much pain.

That does not, of course, necessarily filter into intro CS classes. I have seen a few "mobile development" classes in universities, but they seem to be split between iPhone and Android.

I teach the intro. to HCI course at a Canadian university. The course project includes the design and implementation of a mobile app. I'll be using this article as evidence that my students should develop for Android rather than the iPhone.

Most would prefer to develop for the iPhone, and are taking steps to gain access to Macs and developer accounts for that purpose. This will be a nice push in the other direction.

Sorry if this sounds mean, but using this article as evidence is a poor decision. The article contained one mans opinion with no support to any of his arguments. Yelp and FourSquare finally look as good as iPhone? Dad wants a tablet so he should get a $200 Android tab? Where is this $200 iPad competitor? It's not the Galaxy Tab that was just made available in Russia for $1200. There's no ne else.

By all means teach your class Android if they want it, but don't use _this_ article as proof that they should.

Thanks for the feedback. I definitely worded my comment too strongly. Of course that article isn't strong evidence.

We're supporting both Android and iPhone.

It sounds like you wish to force your own platform preference on your students. I'm not sure how this article counts as evidence for anything other than one individual has convinced himself iPhone vs Android is going the same way as Mac vs Windows.

Not in the least. We support both. Most students don't have Macs and feel pressure to develop for the iPhone.

Of course you're right - it isn't strong evidence, just another opinion.

From talking with other developers, developing a good interface for Android is much more painful and costly than developing one in iPhone. I caution you that you might get poor course evaluations because it might be more of a struggle to get something implemented in Android vs iPhone.

Because there were hundreds of Windows machines whereas there was only a few variations of Macintosh, all controlled by the same company and priced at a premium.

By this formula, one ought to have been bullish about PlaysForSure--a platform with over a dozen music stores and compatible player devices from almost two dozen vendors. But we saw what happened there: the platform was beaten by a single store with a few variations of player all controlled by the same company and priced at a premium.

Neither example is strongly predictive, but I think this one is a bit more relevant, for reasons which should be obvious.

  Windows lacked the fit and finish of the Macintosh. But
  it didn't matter. Because there were hundreds of Windows
  machines whereas there was only a few variations of Macintosh...
This has long been the conventional wisdom, but given recent history, I'm less and less convinced that it's true. There's a myriad of other factors to consider, like hardware decisions, marketing strategies, and much more.

It's really quite imprudent to bet on Android for only that reason.

I sometimes wonder if Novell didn't help Microsoft in the business market more than seems to get reported. Novell provided a pretty good (for the time) networking solution that allowed decent management.

The one thing I really don't get about this type of article is the predictions based on a management team that isn't at the company. Apple's current management team was behind the iPod strategy and inherited an already niche market with the Macintosh. I don't look to the actions of Thomas Edison to determine what GE next strategy will be.

With the iPod they started with a "high" price and introduced models that filled in the low-end. They also built and ecosystem around it.

Also, this "there-can-be-only-one" crud doesn't really happen in many markets.

I use a Nexus One as my daily phone since it came out in January, and it's hard to say whether Android software/hardware experience will ever catch up to Apple's standard.

The touchscreen on the iPhone is state of the art, with my N1, I need to touch something once or twice, which never happens with iPhone.

Same for keyboard on the iPhone, it's light years better than any of the dozens implementations for Android. I don't care for predictive text so much as just a great spell checker.

Also compare the Facebook app on both phones. Android's is not there yet.

I believe they will 1-up the iPhone keyboard with this:


Have you tried Swype?

I have, yes. I still prefer the iPhone keyboard.

"The touchscreen on the iPhone is state of the art, with my N1, I need to touch something once or twice, which never happens with iPhone."

Apple didn't design their touchscreen (nor do they design their processor, RAM, display, wireless chipset, etc.). The Nexus One, it is very well known, has a weak capacitive touchscreen that is outclassed by any number of competing Android phones. This has nothing to do with Android versus the iPhone.

"Same for keyboard on the iPhone, it's light years better than any of the dozens implementations for Android"

Disagree entirely, but I suppose that's subjective. Then again, I can't stand touchscreens keyboards altogether. My preference is strongly weighted towards sliders.

"Also compare the Facebook app on both phones. Android's is not there yet."

But it's getting there. Quickly.

I've been using Android phones since the G1. The quality improvements over the last 6 months have been incredible. Over the last 3 months has been exhilarating. Over the last 1 month has been unfathomable.

Apps for Androids used to be an afterthought. Now anyone who thinks they're an afterthought is a fool -- they are now front and center (and, as a sidenote, it leveled the ground for competitors like Blackberry as well. Being an "iPhone only" mobile solution is a loser's game now, smelling as ignorant and backwards as being an IE-only website). They are rapidly evolving into a decent platform.

Yeah, a year from now Android will easily match any fit and finish of the iPhone.

What Android tablet is he talking about? I don't know any comparable to the iPad.

Yeah, what a bogus argument. "What if I could give you an iPad-equivalent for just 99 cents? And if you act now, I'll throw in a free pony."

Why bogus? The question is completely valid. The article suggested there is something comparable to iPad, only running on Android and costing $200...while the current reality is that only comparable tablet is Samsung galaxy pad, which is not yet in the stores, and is priced higher than Android. And no, Archos isn't there yet.

I was about to ask the same question....

Maybe the Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which is not in the stores and could cost between $500 and $1000?

I went from iPhone 3G to HTC Desire (Android 2.2) and really wish I'd waited for the iPhone 4G. Both hardware and software is inferior, do love the freedom from ITunes though...

Bought the iPad two weeks ago, made my HTC Desire suck even more:/

We discussed this before... but... what if Microsoft developer tools are better than Apple (xcode) and Android (eclipse) ? what if any guy can develop some software in a few days while doing the same for Android and the Apple takes 2x o 3x? what if Silverlight experience is better than html5 or native UIs? And... what if connecting games between desktop, xbox and mobile works?

Many "What IFs", but for me the developing tools and silverlight are key. Also on the RIM side QNX is a very promising bet against Linux/iOS/Windows, the demo doesn't feel real, but QNX is a strong OS.

Have you written code for Android? To make it any easier, you would have to advance the state of IDE and language integration by a few decades. Sure, it doesn't let you draw widgets by hand and attach callbacks all in an instant, like Visual Basic, but, for an API, it the simplest, most obvious thing you can imagine.

And FWIW, I do my Android hacking with emacs and a shell buffer.

I kind of passionately disagree. I think that both Apple and Microsoft's tools blow Android's out of the water. Objective-C and C# are more pleasant languages; the graphics libraries are in vastly better shape (ever wonder why Android scrolling blows so much compared to iPhone?); tools for profiling and the like are vastly better; etc.

Android's tools don't suck, but I think they're objectively inferior to Apple's and Microsoft's across the board.

True. And private gardens are superior to public parks.

Android at least has garbage collection .. native C interface, and it's open to you as your mother's arms.

If Android lacks anything, it's only a matter of time before it's fixed. The cat is out of the bag, and the OS of the mobile future is Google's as much as it's yours and mine. For every polished iPhone handset sold, there are three crappy but wide-open android devices sold to hungry minds. iPhone is the best mobile OS today, in terms of polish and usability, but Android powers devices that haven't been conceived yet!

Poor grad students in EE and CS are all over the mailing-lists, asking for help with Android ports to their cheap boards. They're ambitious, confused, tired and hungry. They don't know what they're doing .. yet. They're just making use of what they have, a Free OS that does the basics. However, said students, amateurs, wannabes and beginners number in the millions .. the little busy bees are hard at work, reading, writing, and hacking, and in five years time, when they know better, when they're more capable, when they graduate and funded, you can bet your last dime they will make this a Free Android world. Neither Apple nor Microsoft have enough money to buy people's free will and self-interest.

I said this before and I will say it again; Android is on par with LAMP and GCC in terms of impact. It's not a piece of infrastructure software, it's a fundamental right for the mobile future, and will power far more dreams than any niche or specialty mobile platform, which iOS and the others are destined to be.

In all fairness you are lumping a whole bunch of devices together. I have no doubt that Android will find its way into all sorts of products, much like other flavors of Linux already have. Most people have no idea that Linux is powering their network gear, web cams, etc., but they don't need to. No one thinks to themselves "wow, my microwave is using embedded Linux, I'm going to get a Linux notebook."

Apple is making the best phone and tablet os that they can. That is their goal. If it means it's also the best in the market, then they will be rewarded by people buying their products. They haven't lost because iOS isn't being installed on a printer.

You are looking at people who buy mobile devices as accessories or luxury items. I, on the other hand, want to develop tablets for medical assistance, mostly diagnosis, translation and record keeping, and deploy them in my home country of Somalia, and the refugee camps in Kenya.

Whether Apple sells X units or makes Y dollars is immaterial to me. All I care about is that every Android source file begins with a preamble that's sweeter than Aretha and Whitney to my ears: it promises me Freedom. Freedom to share, copy, clone, sell, give away. And from my experience, Dan Bornstein and the gang, bless their hacking souls, are here to assist me.

My "users" might never care what powers their doctors' tablets (they don't even know what an OS is, in fact, most of them can't read) but I do. I know I can fly back to ShenZhen and shop for boards, case, power chords, and save money. And in the end, have a Free, world-class operating system waiting for me.

To me Android is not a privilege, it's a right. It's what I will use to help my people. And there are millions like me who outnumber luxury mobile users by a huge margin.

This is where my heart is at:


For under $100 one can buy Android tablet delivered from China. Small one, 7" screen, low battery life time 3 hours.

Or more pricey ones with 8", 10" screens, less or more branded.

Or, for example, Android netbook from Sony, definitely not cheap.

Or chose from several dozens of phones with prices starting from about $200.

About software development Mahmud wrote enough in comments.

Yes, I said "I can fly back to ShenZhen".

I shipped nearly every type of electronic piece from China. $100 is not the bottom, it's the ceiling. I have been in this business (gadget hardware) since 2004.

But I have a feeling you were not replying to me ;-)

Yes, it was placed here to complement what you have written about social needs which will be fulfilled by Android. Android as an OS plus many vastly different hardware platforms.

This not a gadget for the rich. It is now available for normal people.

I haven't seen the Android docs, but for building an app with a GUI I genuinely can't think of anything better than the WinPhone7 SDK.

What do you think makes WP7 superior to Android? Please be as detailed as you can; this is not an argument, it's a feature request :-) A million lurking volunteers, bored but capable as they are, will take it upon themselves to improve Android before Google gets around to it (it's a vicious race for good hacks.)

I can share my experience from developing with Silverlight and c# for a few years (Though for the past year I've developed exclusively in java).

First of all the language. c#, especially in the latest iterations has become incredible. Featuring the goodness of both statically and dynamically typed languages. It has become very elegant and powerful.

Sadly, I can't say anything similar on Java. Is has been very slow to advance, very conservative when advancing, and the tools are still so slow (At least eclipse).

Regarding GUI development on Silverlight. Microsoft has done many things right with it. It has the best separation of UI and logic that I have seen built right into it. They have xml files to represent the UI (In the same way web has HTML), and the framework is as flexibly as could be (e.g. it wouldn't take you more than a minute to create a scrollbar that looks like a clock for example (If you have the graphics ready).

And the most important of all - they have a UI editor built for DESIGNERS. It encourages you to worry about the UI look and feel, and not on the logic behind it. It has tools in it from the designers world, and encapsulate a lot of headaches (E.g. setting a gradient direction is done by dragging a line over the area, and not by setting some numbers).

In addition, Silverlight has the advantage of being a second generation after WPF. Microsoft has learned from its mistakes with WPF, and simplified Silverlight dramatically. They could do that because Silverlight was a new technology which didn't have the requirement to be backward compatible.


Android allows you to define your UI in XML as well[1]. It's not that novel, Flex does the same thing too. But not to be too dismissive, it would nice to hear of experts in both to tell us what Android might be lacking.

Regards UI editor, yes, Android doesn't have any WYSIWYG UI editors. There is one, but it's 3rd party and not as polished as you describe MS's to be.



Android may allow you to design your ui in xml, but go read a tutorial on custom styling WPF -- I were much doubt you can:

create a new list box which works exactly like a normal listbox would but the items in it are replaced by whatever you write between <datatemplate></datatemplate> tags, and all the bindings you make in the data template are automatically set so that they are bound to the object they represent (ie the dynamic properties in data template 3 are bound to object 3 in the source list). And the entire thing takes only about 30 lines of xml.

Bind any property on any object to any property on any other object

Have any properly which is bound to any other property be automatically updated when the value of that property changes

Attach new properties to any xml element, and execute code when that property changes (useful to change a bool in one class to cause a window to close in another)

You can create entire master detail system and bind them together without haveing to write a line of c# code to tell it how it should look or what it should do -- which means that (if you structure your code right) that you can create unit tests that check that when one button is clicked, an item is removed from a list, etc.

Again, MS have created something that is really, really far ahead of anything else here. Too bad it is windows only.

With respect to Android vs WP7 controls is the lookless nature of Silverlight controls. This allows you to completely reskin and add new behavior to an existing control while maintaining all of its current behavior.

I wrote some code for Android, and I'm currently working on WPF application for windows (which should be similar to Silverlight). Saying that Android XML UI description files are comparable to XAML + Visual Studio XAML designer + Expression Blend is like saying that C# and Java are the same because the source code for both languages can be written using vi - technically it's correct statement, but it completely misses the point.

Why do you believe this to be true? While the Linux desktop has improved incrementally over the years it has remained a good distance behind it's proprietary rivals.

I disagree with what you're saying, actually. While I know I'm biased as an Ubuntu user at home, I think that MS Windows and Apple OS X are far behind the Linux world when it comes to - for example - window management. In Windows 7, there's no way to make a window stay on top, if you hook up two monitors, you only have one taskbar, etc.

Another example is package management. If you want to mount an ISO in Windows, you have to scour Google for a while attempting to find a spyware-free available download. It's a garbage situation in Windows.

Linux, however, has amazing window management capabilities as well as package managers.

Now, if we turn to ease-of-use, I'd like to remind you that Google Chrome OS is coming out in one month (ish). While it is a proprietary OS, there is an open source / free software version called Chromium OS. This is a Linux OS that looks totally easy to use and will be natural for non-Linux people to handle.

I very strongly disagree that the Linux desktop is "a good distance" behind its rivals.

Linux (or more specifically the free desktop) is a great deal ahead of the Mac in terms of user choice, but falls down in terms of quality of implementation.

I'm a Fedora Core user at work (and have been for the better part of a decade) and am consistently appalled at the unreliability of things like sound and clipboard management. Areas that are completely taken for granted on other platforms.

I've heard the "fit and finish" argument frequently, both in print and in person as the owner of an HTC Incredible. I don't really see it myself, though. Sure there are a lot of junky looking 3rd party apps, but this is true of iPhone as well. Unlike early Windows vs Mac, I don't have this reaction to the base system.

What are people reacting to when they say this? Or is it just a canned response?

I'm a full-time Android developer. I alternate between using a Nexus One and an iPhone 4 as my main phones.

One of the big differences is that iOS devices have hardware accelerated graphics. You don't really notice how weak transitions and animations are on Android until you get used to using an iPhone. It's a subtle difference, but it's real and it makes a difference.

Other "fit and finish" advantages that the iPhone has: -The lack of a back button. On Android it's great in theory, but in practice it's unpredictable. Depending on where you are it might kick you out of the app you're in or it might take you up a level in the hierarchy or it might take you to the previous document you viewed. The iPhone is better for avoiding this ambiguous navigation.

-A single place for storing apps. It's frustrating running out of space for apps on Android and having to worry about moving them to the SD card. On the iPhone you have games that are bigger than 1gb and you don't have to think twice about installing them or about where they go.

-The iPhone's app store is still better than the Android Market. There are good apps in both, but the iPhone still makes it much easier to discover the best apps. Between having Genius, lists like top grossing and most downloaded, better categories, and better reviews it's just overall a nicer experience.

-The iPhone's music player is better. It has the downside of requiring sync with iTunes but once you have your music on there it's much nicer. It's easier and faster to browse. It's got features like Genius and 2x speed for audiobooks and coverflow, which despite not being super useful, runs fast and smooth.

-The iPhone's camera is faster than any Android device's camera I've tried. It makes a big difference when you're trying to capture a fleeting moment if the shutter lags half a second from the time you press the button. On the iPhone it's instantaneous.

-It's a new feature on the iPhone, but folders for home screen icons is great. The default Android launcher feels outdated.

All that having been said, there are a ton of nice things on Android. Built in voice nav is awesome, being able to share data between apps, the way intents are handled and the ability to set defaults is nice, and there are a ton of other things I love about Android, but since you asked about what people are talking about when they say the iPhone has fit and finish, these are the big ones in my opinion.

One of the big differences is that iOS devices have hardware accelerated graphics. You don't really notice how weak transitions and animations are on Android until you get used to using an iPhone. It's a subtle difference, but it's real and it makes a difference.

It's weird that Android still doesn't have this. Even tired old Symbian is now using GPU acceleration for display compositing...

This is something that is actually pretty tricky. The GPUs on many devices don't allow multiple OpenGL contexts to be created. So in the case of Android, the animations are done in software and the currently running application can create an OpenGL context. This generally makes for slow animations (and unfortunately worse battery life).

What can be done is that the system can create an OpenGL context, and then proxy all other calls (from other apps) through that context with a minor performance hit. This is something that the original iPhone had actually done. However, I think this might be somewhat challenging when working with different mobile GPUs and their quirks.

So while on the surface it's a very simple problem, in practice it can be very hard.

There's a bug in the tracker but it's been shut down for now. The google rep's answer was "This is something we've investigated a couple of years ago already and that we revisit regularly. Of course we thought of using the GPU, but there are non-trivial issues on many Android devices (a G1-class device for instance supports only one OpenGL context at a time, which would prevent you from using any OpenGL based app like games or augmented reality apps.) In our past experiments we even found many cases in which using the GPU was slower than normal rendering. New devices might allow us to overcome the past limitations that made GPU support a not-so-good solution. The "choppiness" and "lagginess" you are mentioning are more often related to heavy garbage collection than drawing performance"


No phone left behind?

This is (another area) where Apple's strictly controlled hardware platform fully specified and understood trumps Android's carrier friendliness. Because we consumers aren't the market for mobile phones, however, I don't expect iOS to "win" -- to maintain current marketshare. I also expect Apple to be seriously challenged in terms of user experience by WP7, but never by Android.

DISCLAIMER: Former Apple engineer, reasonably unreasonable fanboy.

Thanks, that's a wonderfully detailed response. All your points are correct, but I don't know if that really captures people's reactions. I get this reaction almost immediately --- before they've tried the market, before they've played any music or taken any pictures.

The hardware acceleration graphics might be key. I immediately turned off all the transitions and animations upon getting my phone, as I find them distracting. Perhaps this is what throws people: where I see crisp and fast, they expect smooth and silky.

Personally, I greatly prefer dealing with the Incredible interface to dealing with the iPhone's. Every time I borrow a friend's to do some simple task, I end up handing it back to them much more angry than I began. I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like I'm swaddled in cotton gauze and unable to breath.

Even something as basic as on-screen typography is much worse under Android.

I would think the dominant impression would be screen resolution rather than typography. Is this true for you of all Android devices, including the current phones? The iPhone 4 does have a great screen, but I find my HTC Incredible more readable than the earlier generation iPhones.

Is it visibly different within apps or only when dealing with the system? For example, he concludes in the article that the Yelp app is pretty much identical on both systems. Do you disagree? I'm sensitive to kerning issues too, but I'm not sure the iPhone is in the lead here.

It's already massively outselling the iPhone. Do we even need to speculate that it's going to be an important platform for a long time?

Nokia dumbphones massively outsell iPhones too, but as far as developers are concerned, the only real game in town is iPhone development. Android apps don't make nearly as much money for us mobile developers, and device sales aren't going to solve that problem alone.

So yeah, speculation is warranted. I'm deeply embroiled in the market, and I think the jury is out.

Do they also have a positive derivative?

So confused by your question :)

Ever since "losing" to Microsoft on the desktop, Apple have slowly perfected their strategy for being the smaller alternative. They find the most lucrative niche and design to the point where they can own that piece of the market. Built into Apple products is a sense of superiority, the feeling that the rest of the world is jealous and frustrated. It's in their ads, and its in their users. This has shown its effectiveness in the computer market, and it will probably make them a ton of money on the mobile scene as well.

But Apple didn't have to do this in the mobile world. The iPhone was the default smartphone. I was once talking with a rather avid iPhone user who he asked me "what's the market for Android?" I fina;ly convinced him that it could be everyone when I replied, "what's the market for Windows?"

The iPhone is a product. It has a target niche, a company behind it, a list of features, and everything else one expects. Android is not - it's a platform. The Droid is a product. The Nexus one is a different product. Like Windows, Android twists and bends to the offerings of each vendor. Android has the more scalable long tail strategy - instead of trying to please your customers directly, let the market mold your product into as many forms as it will pay for.

I don't think that Apple have necessarily screwed up. They may have given up the big fish, and they may have had a reason. For one, Apple are doing what they're best at. They also may have a strategy that integrates with the Mac. They may also be right. Maybe the mobile phone isn't the next computer. Maybe it's like the iPod, best at doing one thing very well.

I think Apple is making a mistake in breaking developer trust. As long as they keep market dominance, people will keep coming back to them, but as the numbers show, Android is poised to surpass. When there are many more Androids out there than iPhones, iPhone dev is gonna be a tough sell.

When there are many more Androids out there than iPhones, iPhone dev is gonna be a tough sell.

What do you think the ratio of Android-to-iOS installed base is going to have to be before the median Android developer is making as much money as the median iOS developer? To get to that point, how many significantly different Android devices is an Android developer going to be expected to target?

Looking at this market through the context of the PC wars of the 90s is a mistake, as is assuming that developer allegiance is a function of handset sales.

"When he told me his primary uses of the tablet will be Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Calendar, I told him he'll be better off with Android."

Or Chrome OS, if it ever ships.

Chrome OS is supposed to ship in November. It has been that way for about a year now. I've heard this tone a lot lately, about Chrome OS not shipping. Nobody ever said it would arrive before Nov 2010...just be patient. Google will deliver as promised.

They said last year in November that Chrome OS will launch 1 year from then. Why were you expecting it earlier?

It does seem the Chrome OS will be out by the end of the year.


An interesting thing that comes out in a lot of these topics is how people are historical determinists when it come to tech platforms.

"The way OS wars work is..."

To me it seems like so much is different that I'd be very hesitant to have such a strong opinion. The players are established companies, it's phones and tablets (cheaper devices with shorter lives), the web is the killer app, software development is easier (in many ways), it's twenty years later....

And yet Apple have been making the same mistakes they made during the original PC wars.

That's what I'm talking about (or are you being disingenuous). Calling them mistakes (I assume you mean creating the more closed environment) is assuming that OS wars inevitably play out a certain way.

I'm not sure what could be interpreted as disingenuous about my comment.

Openness is not a tactic of any particular war. It is simply the best thing for consumers and developers. The notion that openness doesn't matter in this "war" just because the devices look different and the battleground is the web, is nonsensical. I would argue that openness matters even more now than it did in the late 80s and early 90s, because the form factors are more widely varied, and the number of people who can directly participate is dramatically higher.

Regardless of Apple fanboyism and arguments about the war being "different this time", Android is already winning. There are more Android phones shipping than iPhones.

hey. hey.

I'm on no particular side of anything. I'm not arguing that openness doesn't matter. I can't figure out where you got that. Of course you can argue that openness is more important. My observation is that when people do make those kind of arguments they make a sort of a deterministic argument surprisingly often.

Incidentally, the rest of this thread is a good place to make your argument that android is already winning.

I have been debating fiddling wither win7 or android.

What is a good android phone to test/develop with? Is the nexus still the best choice?

Unfortunately, if you want a warranted phone, I think the nexus might be your best choice. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that they will still replace it under warrantee if something happens to it and you have root. With all other phones, as far as I'm aware, if you root your phone, you loose warrantee.

I rooted my Motorola Droid and a about 6 months later parts of the screen stopped working. They wouldn't replace it because it had been rooted. I probably should have just undone all that and taken it back to another store, but I ended up just buying a new phone.

The Nexus One is absolutely still the best phone to develop and test with. I also happen to think it's the best phone for daily use.

You can start hacking Android without a phone. The emulator is just cool :-)

The emulator is a dog. Compared to the iPhone anyways.

It's useless for web development.

How many platforms does the iPhone emulator run on? Is it instrumentable and controllable by user applications using nothing but sockets and octets? Didn't think so :-)

Android emulator is slow to start, but it's cross-platform, and allows for hot-updating.

I have just about completely ditched the android emulator because it is irritatingly slow and I'm constantly finding it with its pants down trying to talk to eclipse. At our company we've also found that it doesn't give an accurate idea of how readable the text is in your interface, or how easy it is to interact with, partly because it's just too big on the screen and partly because it's sluggish.

It is at its most useful when I want to pull a file from internal storage, which often isn't possible on a device, or when I don't have a device handy, in which case it is a passable solution. It's never, ever my first choice, though.

I use the emulator for continuous integration. Its really helpful for unit- and integration-testing. Combine it with Robotium and you can thoroughly test you application across screen sizes and Android OS Versions.

I'd like to second a thank you for pointing out Robotium, since I was trashing the emulator in the first place. I will definitely be checking that out for my next project.

Thank you for pointing out Robotium.

Can you elaborate more about your test setup?


I use the maven-android-plugin to build the dependencies in seperate modules. I have a patched version of bouncycastles crypto implementation (to have openpgp in android). Then there is the network code which also contains no android dependencies so it can be tested without the emulator.

Another module is the App itself. The last module is the TestApp. This is the recommended Test Setup: http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/testing/testin...

The testapp and the app are copied to the emulator or a real device. Then the instrumentation is started. The maven build fails if any error or failure occurs while building, installing or testing.

The continuous integration is done by hudson. The emulator can be started "headless" (-no-window) so it doesn't need to connect to the running XWindow-Server. Currently I am starting the emulator from maven with a special profile that is only used in hudson. When testing locally I usually have my phone already connected. It seems to be possible to have hudson start the emulator. With that setup logcat-output would be captured by hudson. Thats were I want to go.

Also missing in my setup is an multi environment build with all screen resolutions, locales and OS-Versions.

Thank you again.

Btw. I've upvoted your response, but still see one point next to it. Strange.

Tried YouWave? It is a way faster Android emulator. Some developers and game players are starting using it.

As a development phone the Nexus One is the best choice. You can unlock the bootloader and install Android from source after that.

It's inevitable that the mobile phone backed by the cloud is going to take the place of the Personal Computer. A pocket sized device will be your personal computer. Larger form factors will only exist to provide input and display facilities that can't live in the pocket-sized one.

Five years ago I think I had some Samsung phone, maybe; I don't remember for sure. Or that might have been the year that I first got a Palm Treo. I went through three Palm Treos because they kept failing.

Maybe the iPhone, or Android, or both, will still be with us long-term. Maybe not. I don't really get majorly attached to my mobile phone; if the iPhone isn't the most totally awesomest phone for me next time I get a new one, then maybe I'll get something else, and leave the iPhone as a distant memory, along with the Samsungs, and the Motorolas, and the pile of defunct Palm Treos. (For that matter, I already have my original iPhone stuffed away somewhere, while my shiny new iPhone 4 is in active use...)


great conversation

i am just seeing this now

i wish disqus could pick up this entire discussion and post it into the comments on my blog

it would greatly enrich the conversation there and i would be able to engage in real time, not a day later

I've noticed that too, that Google seems to have created the Windows of mobile phones, while Apple, of course, is the Apple of mobile phones.

So, where does that leave Microsoft?

I keep putting off doing anything on android because of java. I don't know java, and I don't really want to learn it. I suppose I will give in eventually, for android, but it will be grudgingly.

If you don't know Java, what do you have against it?

To some extent it's aesthetic. Java seems bureaucratic and verbose and just...clunky.

Part of this is just where I'm coming from. I started programming as a kid with basic, then assembly, like most programmers my age. Then pascal and C in college, got a job doing C++ and did that for a number of years. Dabbled in a working in php at the end of that, seemed a little sloppy as a language.

Then I just stopped programming for a long while. Did other things for a living, other things for hobbies. I'd burned out on programming because I wasn't doing the sorts of things I wanted to be doing with it.

Now I'm getting back into it and I just don't have any interest in Java. It feels like it's designed for slow, plodding steps, and writing code in it feels like I'm doing a lot of favors for the language rather than working on something interesting.

Right now I'm building small stuff in Python and dabbling in Clojure. Python lets me feel like the language is not at all a source of friction. I write the code as fast as I know what the code should be doing. Java does not feel like that at all. It's got its limitations, and there's certain things I'd drop back into C for if I wanted to do them, but Python is a language I can almost ignore while I'm using it, if that makes sense.

Clojure is a whole different animal, and I'm mostly using it to stretch my brain a bit. Get some concepts I'd like to learn.

Hmm I had that feeling for a long, long while with Java, but if you take the time to learn the shortcuts in Eclipse, really learn them so they are on the back of your mind and you don't have to think about it, Java stops being a language that you have to force, and it becomes a language that flows a lot freer from your fingers.

In addition, Android development uses Java, but it has replaced almost all of the apis, so there are less warts.

I have to chime in that I also feel that Java is much as you said. I wanted to write some reflective code, and it took me an hour (admittedly doing it for the first time) and 57 lines of code. Frustrated, I did a mock up of it in python to see what the difference would be. It was only 12 lines, and much more intelligible. It was also much faster to write, but that isn't a fair comparison since the research into the function requirements had already been done.

Java is very difficult to use without an IDE, but if do use one it would have taken you much, much less time.

But yeah, using Java means you have to write many lines of code.

I understand Scala works fine for Android, too, which is much more attractive than working with Java.

I've always wondered how many apps there are on the Market using Scala - I've never heard of one and it would be interesting to try writing my next one in it.

There's a small discussion here - http://www.reddit.com/r/scala/comments/dqbiu/scala_on_androi...

Apparently bu.mp's Android app is written in Scala.

This article by Fred Wilson (AVC) highlights the rise of Android and ARM as the dominant players (and standard) in the next wave of computing (along with Apple and others as strong niche players).

For the last several decades, the Wintel standard has dominated personal computing (PC). If we look at current market share data, Microsoft’s and Intel’s position in the PC market appears unassailable. As of September 2010, the Windows OS controlled 91% of the PC market (Net Applications, 2010), while Intel microprocessors controlled just over 80% (IDC, 2010).

But what if personal computing is shifting away from desktops and packaged applications, the stronghold of Windows and Intel, to a combination of “thin devices,” cloud computing, and online media? Thin devices are smartphones, tablets, connected televisions, and a myriad of other devices that connect to the cloud to access various online media, from video to social networking.

In view of this transition, the future actually looks quite bleak for Microsoft and Intel, despite their strong position in the PC market. Microsoft has struggled mightily in the smartphone and online media markets, and is reluctant to aggressively enter the cloud in fear that it will cannibalize sales of Windows and Office. Meanwhile Intel has struggled to produce microprocessors that appeal to thin device OEMs, where energy efficiency is prioritized over sheer computing power.

If Microsoft and Intel, and the Wintel standard are fading, then which companies and which standards are rising? Apple has been pushing the frontier in computing with its collection of thin devices (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, the Apple TV) and its media platforms (iTunes and the App Store). Google has also invested substantially in these new computing markets with Android on thin devices (smartphones, tablets, smartbooks, set-top boxes, and connected televisions) and Google’s growing suite of cloud services (e.g., Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Android Market).

Looking at current trends, it appears that the diffusion of Android and ARM may be accelerating past competitors. Recent NPD and Nielsen data indicate that Android sales have now overtaken Apple’s iOS and Blackberry’s RIM in the smartphone market. And analyst Paul Morland of KBC Peel Hunt estimates ARM’s market share in microprocessors will increase from 29% to 40% from 2010-2014. Meanwhile Android and ARM are on the cusp of rising in emerging device markets, such as tablets and connected televisions.

If the last several decades of personal computing was dominated by the Wintel standard, with AMD and Apple as the scrappy competitors. It appears the future of computing may be dominated by Armdroid (or a slight variant based on the Google Chrome OS), with Apple and several others as strong niche players. Of course there will be other companies that will rise and sustain their position as dominant players in other segments of computing, from enterprise cloud services (e.g., Salesforce.com) to online video (e.g., Netflix), and online retail (e.g., Amazon).

I just posted this to my blog and submitted the post to HN. If you enjoyed the read, I'd appreciate an upvote (the article title is "Armdroid"). Thanks!

It is paradigm shift.

Dominant model for mass use of computing was Wintel based desktop/laptop connected by the wire to the net.

It is changing now. There is a choice. Deskotop/laptop still exists. But affordable access to WiFi and GSM (CDMA in the US) net connectivity makes use of more mobile devices attractive. These devices are available in many factors and great price range.

The future is not so nice for developers and software firms. There was one target platform. Not any more.

But on the other hand there are completely new classes of needs which can be fulfilled by software. So we have new niches.

Android phones, tablets, netbooks.

Great choice of prices and features.

Multiple hardware vendors.

Open and friendly development ecosystem.

Open market without one gatekeeper.

Sales numbers accelerating month by month.

It looks like the game is over. The winner is Android.

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